IROQUOIS FALLS - It didn’t take long for Andrew Green and Shane Hiley to make an impact for the Abitibi Eskimos.
Green scored the first of two goals 6:42 into the first period of the Eskimos 8-4 win over the Blind River Beavers at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night.
The goal put the home side in front 5-0, to the delight of the 495 fans in attendance.
“I was really excited , the crowd went wild,” Green said.
“I haven’t played in front of a crowd like that, ever in my life, so I was really happy.
“I wasn’t looking for another goal. I just kept plugging away and tried to play a solid game and another one came.”
Green, in fact, had a number of other fine scoring chances as he used his speed and hand-eye co-ordination to cause havoc in the Blind River defensive zone.
The contributions of the two newcomers did not go unnoticed.
“They were just so explosive,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“The young Green, with the skills he has, it brings that extra dimension to our team. He scored a couple of goals tonight and they were timely goals that were momentum killers for the opposition, so it’s nice to have those guys around.
“I have to give credit to my linemates,” Green said.
“I worked with Hiley for a little bit and then I worked with (Ryan) Tront, who set me up numerous times in the game and also (Zach) Innes, a great player, who set me up numerous times in front of the net. They made it happen.”
Green is excited about having the opportunity to play with the Eskimos.
“It’s unbelievable hockey and the atmosphere in the locker room is great,” he said.
“All the guys are friendly, sociable and welcoming. Everybody is always happy at practice and in the locker room. It is just an awesome place to play.”
Green, a Plainsview, N.Y., native played for the Toronto Attack last season and began this year with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens program.
Brenden Locke, Brady Clouthier, Zach Innes and Kevin Walker had scored earlier for the Eskimos, with Walker’s goal prompting Beavers coach Doug McEwen to pull starting goalie Matt Young in favour of Dylan Knox.
Knox stopped nine of the 13 shots he faced, while Young blocked 13 of the 17 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss.
Eskmos goaltender Sylvain Miron stopped 23 of the 27 shots Blind River fired his way to earn the win.
The Eskimos coach was definitely pleased with the effort his team put forth Saturday night.
“It’s a good feeling when you win, for sure, but it’s also the way you win,” Gagne said.
“I thought we dominated. We played lots in the offensive zone and we didn’t get into too many giveaways.
“In the second period there were a few turnovers and high-risk plays that we shouldn’t have made, but you know what that’s hockey.
“We minimized those mistakes and I thought we played some excellent hockey.”
The Eskimos got offensive contributions from just about every line, which meant the Beavers couldn’t focus on trying to shut down one unit.
“We were rolling four lines, so everybody had lots of energy,” Gagne said.
“We put the pressure on today with the forecheck in the offensive zone and we were keeping it deep which created a lot of opportunities.
“It’s killer instinct. You get one and you want to keep going. The players on the bench were saying ‘let’s keep her going, let‘s keep her going.‘”
Clearly falling behind 5-0 in the first period was not the way the Beavers wanted to start Saturday night’s game — especially after losing 8-1 to the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake Friday night.
“There are no excuses,” McEwen said.
“I don’t think we came prepared properly. The effort was not there. They guys were taking things for granted and it shows in the score.
“You don’t give up eight goals in two games when you are working hard. We didn’t put in the work and we deserved this kind of beating.”
The Beavers have struggled so far this season to find consistent goaltending, with Young and Knox both beaten for four goals Saturday night and Braeden Turco surrendering eight in Kirkland Lake Friday night.
“The options are there and if one of them starts playing good we will give them a first game and if they play well we’ll give them a second and then a third and fourth,” McEwen said.
“It’s up to them. They are all capable goaltenders.
“It starts with them and works out to the defence and then so on. We allow 10 shots and they get four or five goals, it doesn’t show well on our goaltending.
Blind River was able to slow the Eskimos attack and got a pair of goals — from Tyler Shanush and Scott Marshall — to head to the dressing room trailing just 5-2.
Green’s second goal of the game, a power-play marker just 56 seconds into the second period, put the Eskimos up 6-2 and defenceman Steven Pettite netted his first NOJHL goal just under eight minutes later to stake them to a 7-2 advantage.
Samuel Wilbur beat Sylvain Miron to cut the lead to 7-3, before Hiley scored his first goal in his first game as an Eskimo to make it an 8-3 game.
Wilbur’s second goal of the game for the Beavers, on the power play, was the only goal of the third period, making the final 8-4.
The Eskimos were full credit for the victory, according to McEwen.
“They pressured us,” he said.
“They pushed us hard. They were working hard and they outnumbered us.
“Our guys were more or less just watching the game instead of getting involved in the game. When you allow a guy to come down the middle of the rink and get a free shot … the opportunity arose for them and they took their chances well and it resulted in the first five goals.”